“Rising knife crime is causing horrendous destruction and grief in our communities and councils are uncovering some shocking cases of illegal knife sales which risk fuelling this tragic epidemic. Retailers must ask for proof of age if they suspect the buyer is under 25."
Responding to Ministry of Justice figures published today showing that knife crime offences dealt with by the criminal justice system in England and Wales in the year ending September 2019 were the highest number in a decade, Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:
“The fact that the number of knife and offensive weapons offences dealt with by the courts has hit a 10-year high, is extremely worrying.
“Rising knife crime is causing horrendous destruction and grief in our communities and councils are uncovering some shocking cases of illegal knife sales which risk fuelling this tragic epidemic. Retailers must ask for proof of age if they suspect the buyer is under 25.
“The Prosecutions Fund announced in the Serious Violence Strategy has helped some councils prosecute retailers for blatant breaches of knife sale laws.
“However, given the knife crime epidemic, the significant cuts to trading standards budgets in recent years and the extra enforcement activity needed in light of the Offensive Weapons Act, this Fund needs urgent further investment and extending.
“Ahead of the March Budget we want to work with government to ensure councils have enough funding to tackle illegal knife sales and help protect people from harm.”
Notes to editors
- Ministry of Justice figures published today show that in the year ending September 2019, 22,286 knife and offensive weapon offences were formally dealt with by the Criminal Justice System. This is a 3 per cent increase on the previous year and is the highest number of offences dealt with since the year ending September 2009 (26,364).
- The Prosecutions Fund – part of the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy – was made available to 11 councils (including five London Boroughs) for extra in-store test purchases and for a national online test purchase operation. Of 100 online test purchases from UK knife sellers, 41 per cent were sold illegally to under-18s.
- The LGA has found that as many as six in 10 retailers have sold knives to under-18s in some council areas in test purchase operations